Anecdote – Memories of my grandfather a spiritualist healer

Anecdote – Memories of my grandfather a spiritualist healer

 

Memories of my grandfather a spiritualist healer

I have few memories of my grandfather. He was a little, quiet man who trundled along in the wake of my large, perm-haired Nanny. She was big, jolly and assertive. He was small, thin and seemed to melt into the background.

They always reminded me of those old seaside postcard cartoons of the jolly fat lady with the miserable weedy husband. He had a big nose that my mum passed down to me. He was also very good with his hands. I can remember him working on this old circus ride horse that he’d made into a rocking horse. He repaired it, sorted a tail from old string and put in eyes. Then he painted it. I was well impressed.

My mother told me stories about séances she had witnessed when living at home. She said that a tambourine and trumpet, that resided on hooks on the wall, would play and fly into the air. That she’s seen ectoplasm formed out of thin air and heard voices and tales from the ‘other side’.

I remained cynical. All I had ever seen was my granddad putting on silly voices. He seemed like a prize charlatan to me. But then I was only fourteen when I last saw him. I found him embarrassing.

My father wanted nothing to do with it all. My mother had persuaded him to go along to a séance when they were courting after the war. He’d taken along a hat-badge of a good friend of his who was in submarines and reported missing in action. My granddad went into a trance and gave him a string of numbers which he wrote down. They worked out that they were coordinates and sent off to the War Ministry. They replied by asking where they had got this classified information. The coordinates were within fifty miles of the submarines last known location. It had scared my father.

Now I do not know how true that was or how embellished a story. All I know is that my father refused to talk about it.

My granddad also used to recite books. He would go into a trance and talk. This was taken down in short-hand and later typed up.

Edgar Wallace wrote a number of books through him. My mother told me that they were real and had been authenticated as being in Edgar Wallace’s style.

I don’t know. I never got the chance to read them.

When my Nanny died all the writing, books and a whole load of other material was taken out into the back garden and burnt in one big bonfire. Oh what I’d give to get a look at that stuff now.

Why did my mum do that?

Regardless of anything, and I still remain a skeptic, it was quite a feat to dictate a book to someone. I’ve been writing for forty five years and I don’t think I could do it. My granddad was an uneducated meter reader.

All I have of his are a number of sheets of writing purporting to be a lesson from his American Indian guide – White Eagle.

I’ll dig them out and have a look again.

I still think he was a charlatan.

Fleet Street, Lies, Propaganda and my father.

Fleet Street, Lies, Propaganda and my father.

My father came from a working class family in London. He was a cockney. His Mum (my grandmother) was Irish and my Granddad was a cockney meat porter in Smithfield market. My Grandmother was very austere and my Granddad like a knees up. Somehow they got along.

My Dad was highly intelligent and hard working. He taught himself after having to leave school at fourteen in order to earn money for the family. He had a place at Grammar School but his parents said they could not afford the uniform so he had to leave.

He taught himself to type and worked for Reuters news agency. Then he moved into Fleet street and worked for the Newspapers. He worked his way up to be manager of a big office of telephone reporters for the Evening Standard. He was brilliant at it. But management did not recognise his talents or reward him because he was not one of them.

He told me not to believe anything in the newspapers – particularly the gutter press. He said they were owned by the rich, they distorted, lied and fabricated stories to suit their owners.

My Dad did not play the game. He did not come from a Public School, did not have the right accent, was not in the Rotary Club or Masons. They treated him like scum. When he died they replaced him with someone doing exactly the same job on three times the salary.

The Express, Mail, Telegraph and Sun are pure tripe in my eyes. They are blatant propagandists and deliberately indoctrinate and incite. I don’t believe anything that’s in them.

Anecdote – Education – A tale of parents and me

Anecdote – Education – A tale of parents and me

 

Education – A tale of parents and me

I am the first person in my family, from either side, to have gained a University Degree.

It seems to me that keeping a population ignorant makes them easier to control.

I come from working class stock. One of my grandfathers was a meat porter in Smithfield market. The other was a meter reader for the water board.

My father was very clever. He passed his exams to go to the Grammar School. His parents refused to allow him. They could not afford his uniform. He left school at fourteen to go to work and bring his pay packet home. He joined up in the army to fight in Italy in the Second World War. As an adult he took courses and became an ace typist that enabled him to gain a career in Fleet Street on the newspapers. He achieved a middle management post in charge of a telephone reporters’ office.

My mother’s education effectively ended at the age of eleven when she became ill and was sent off to the seaside for a long convalescence. On returning she was deemed to have missed too much and placed in the ‘Remove’ class. This was effectively a class for those with extreme learning difficulties. As soon as the teacher found my mother could read and write she set her to work helping the other students. In those days the class sizes were fifty five plus. My mum became a teacher’s aide. She took a group of students and taught them. She never escaped from that Remove class. She was too useful. Her own education was brought to a halt.

Like my father my mother later took courses and achieved a high level of expertise in typing and short-hand that enabled her to have a career up until she had babies.

My parents believed in education. They knew it was a passport to a better way of life. To be educated gave you the qualifications, skills and outlook to gain a superior way of life. You had a choice of more fulfilling careers, greater earning power and social mobility. More importantly it opens your mind to more options and greater horizons. It gives you confidence and your life more colour.

I believe education is the long term answer to ignorance such as religious fundamentalism. An educated mind questions. An ignorant mind accepts.

My life has been transformed by the education my family afforded me. I gained the qualifications to go into teaching and become a Headteacher – a career that put me in contact with lively idealistic young minds and proved extremely fulfilling. It opened my mind to question the world, appreciate its beauty, to write, read, travel and meet extraordinary people.

I am grateful for my upbringing. They gave me love, freedom and education. The never tried to indoctrinate me with their politics or religion.

I am who I am because of it.

I often wonder how far my gifted parents would have gone if they had education behind them? They were victims of poverty and the class system that prevented them achieving what they were capable of.

Anecdote – The Real Meaning of Christmas

Anecdote – The Real Meaning of Christmas

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A nice tree with a gnarled spirit!

Another nice tree to worship.

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Doesn’t look like a shaman to me – high on some hallucinatory drug!

The Real Meaning of Christmas

The real meaning of Christmas is locked away in pagan mythology. Most religions that usurp other religions take over the ceremonies of previous religions and modify and adopt them. Christianity did this with both Christmas and Easter.

What we now have as a Christmas celebration – the birth of Jesus with all the nativity scenes – is actually a celebration of the winter solstice.

The winter solstice was celebrated by ancient tribes all over the world. It is, in the northern hemisphere, the shortest day of the year. The days are drawing out, though, because of the way the earth cools, the coldest winter months are still all ahead. This celebration was accompanied by ritual and feasting.

We see a number of the Nordic traditions surviving.

The Christmas tree is a throw-back to the animism of old where spirits were thought to inhabit trees, streams, rivers and rocks. Tree worship was a world-wide religion; we still touch wood for luck. In Scandinavia it was prevalent in the shamanistic tradition.

Santa Claus is another throwback to Scandinavian lore. The shaman used magic potions of hallucinogenic mushrooms to fly through the sky on a sled with his reindeer to converse with the gods. The mushrooms were Amanita muscaria, the fly agaric, and had bright red caps flecked with white. Nowadays Santa Claus (Father Christmas) decked in his bright red and white costume flies through the sky magically to bring gifts to people. These used to be the gifts of insight and wisdom. Now they are usually plastic goods of dubious durability.

So mixed up with our story of Jesus we have tree worship and hallucinatory acid trips.

It’s a heady mix for a small kid to take in!

Anecdote – The Horrific Accident. A real story.

Anecdote – The Horrific Accident. A real story.

Sometimes you have to stop and take note. Sometimes chance was on your side.

It was a Thursday night in March. A cold, dank, wet and miserable evening with little to redeem it. I had an evening class that I was running. I enjoyed it. I was taking an adult education class in the History Of Rock Music. It was very successful. I had a very passionate group and we were having fun. It was the second time I had run the course and both times had proved popular. It involved me playing a lot of very loud Rock Music and talking about where it had come from and why it was so important. The course lasted two hours with a break in the middle of twenty minutes where we had a drink and an informal chat. As a group we had become quite close. There was an easy atmosphere. But even so, it was tiring. I’d already had a long day teaching. I was running low on energy.

I had two of my boys at my school. They were both teenagers – one was sixteen and the other fourteen. Both old enough to be a bit surly and uncommunicative. Dad was definitely not cool and they certainly did not dig my choice in music. They endured the journey back and forth.

Instead of running them home on the night of my class I left them round at their Grandma’s to do their homework and watch a bit of telly. It was good for both them and their Grandma, who I suspect was very lonely, though I know they watched a lot more telly that either doing homework or talking to their Grandma. I’m still sure she appreciated the company.

That week I was talking about one of my favourite eras of 1960’s West Coast Acid Rock. The featured bands were Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band, the Doors, Jefferson Airplane and Grateful Dead. It went well and I was able to play them a number of my favourite tracks.

After the course I picked the boys up and headed home. We lived twelve miles away out in the countryside. It involved driving down a number of small, unlit country two lane country roads. But I was used to that.

My older boy sat in the front and the younger one was in the back. The journey took half an hour.

As we approached the Golf Course on the narrow road there was a gravel pit with a sharp bend. I slowed right down to negotiate that bend. There was a nice looking house on that corner that I really liked, though I was put off by the location. It was right on that bend fronting directly on to the road. The cars passed right in front of it. Still I admired it every time I went by. It was my type of house.

Coming out of the bend I had slowed to twenty and was beginning to accelerate. My foot was pressing down on the accelerator and we must have been doing about thirty miles an hour. The road was slick with rain and glistening wet. Coming towards me were the headlights of another car. I noted that it was going very fast but that was fairly usual. I paid it no mind. A lot of cars travelled at speed on those little country roads. I did not pay it too much mind.

As the car got close to us it seemed to twitch. From that point on everything happened in a split second. I remember three separate images. One – the fast approaching car twitching. Two the car veering across in front of us. Three the car sideways in front of us.

It was so fast that it did not appear as a moving image – just three still shots. The driver must have seen the bend approaching and hit the brakes too hard. He lost it on the wet road and spun. If we hadn’t been in that exact spot he would have simply spun off the road and probably overturned on the golf course. Unfortunately we were in exactly the wrong place.

I had always imagined that I had the reflexes to avoid accidents; that in the event of a potential crash I could take avoiding action.

That is not the case.

The approaching car had been driven by a young teenager out with his friends. They were doing about 100 MPH. I was doing 30 MPH. the combined speed was 130 MPH. I did not have time to react. I did not even have time to take my foot off of the accelerator and apply the brake. It was instantaneous.

The oncoming car spun sideways straight into the front of us.

It was like being in an explosion.

I must have blacked out for a while. When I can round the front end of my car had gone. The whole bonnet and engine had been pushed back on us. The steering wheel was back to the seat. The other car had been stopped dead and pushed on its side in the road in front of us..

There was a few seconds of eerie quiet while the world came back into focus. I could hear hot metal ticking. I looked round at my older son. His face was covered in blood where it had impacted the windscreen but he was alive – dazed but alive. There were screams starting up from the other car. I tried to look round to the back seat. My other son was in the seat well. He had, unbeknown to me, unbuckled his seat-belt and been dozing on the back seat. The impact had thrown him forward into the front seats. He started screaming in pain.

My older son looked completely dazed. I looked down and saw his legs. The engine had come back at him and both his femurs were snapped and forced up in Vs in front of him. I was horrified. The lower part of his legs were invisible. The engine was right back to the seat. I could not see how they were there. I imagined them severed just below the knees.

I stupidly asked him if he was alright. He mumbled. I tried to talk to him. He was barely conscious. I ignored the screams from the back. From a cursory look I did not think there was anything life-threatening. My fear was for my son in the front seat. He looked in grave danger.

I tried to kick the door open on my side. It was not budging. The accident had bent the two front doors into Vs. It would not budge. The door was jammed. I could not get enough traction to force it. The steering wheel was in the way. I felt a wave of panic. I had this vision of the car going up in flames with us trapped in it.

Faces began to appear, peering in at us with terrified expressions. I could smell petrol and hear the tick of hot metal. At any moment I thought the car could go up with a big wooomph. I frantically kicked at the door. Eventually someone helped wrench it open and I somehow got out.

I clambered in the back to check my younger son. He was still screaming but I could not see anything major wrong. I went round the front to my older son. He was barely conscious. I talked to him and tried desperately to keep him conscious. He mumbled. I was sure we were losing him. There was nothing I could do.

A crowd had gathered. A nearby pub had heard the crash. They told me later that the noise had been like an explosion. They had rushed out to see what had happened.

The emergency services arrived quickly. The first on the scene was one of our GPs. He quickly got organised, checked out the youngest and then moved on to the oldest. He quickly set up a saline drip and administered some pain relief. The danger was shock. He was losing blood from those snapped femurs. At that point in time, unbeknown to me, he only had a 10% chance of living. But I could sense that. I was frantic.

My wife arrived. A friend of the family lived in the house nearby and had been one of the first on the scene. He’d recognised us and rung her. She was distraught. we hugged.

The Fire Brigade and then the ambulance arrived. They extracted my youngest son from the wreck, got him into the ambulance, administered pain relief and rushed him away. My older son was more difficult. He was trapped. The Fire Brigade set about cutting the roof off the car so that they could get to him. The medical crew took over the drip and his medical needs.

I was so helpless and frustrated. There was nothing I could do. One of the people from the pub took hold of me and assured me that it was OK. That the professionals were in charge. I had to stay out the way and leave it to them. That was the hardest thing. But I know he was right.

I went down the road picking up my Beefheart albums that had been strewn out of the car onto the road. They were all undamaged. Anything to occupy my mind while they worked on my son.

Eventually, after an hour of cutting, they got him out and into the ambulance. Then I joined him and we rushed off with Blue lights and sirens to the hospital. The driver of the other car was in that ambulance too.

I held my son’s hand while they worked on him.

We all lived.

My younger son had suffered a dislocated hip, one of the most painful injuries, a broken leg and a broken hand.

My older son had suffered two broken femurs, a broken hand and glass embedded in his face.

I suffered bruises, cuts, a broken tooth and a sliced eye-lid. I walked away from it. After a night in hospital I was released. My wife came to pick me up. I insisted we went to the garage where our car had been taken. I walked in and the man went ashen. He had to sit down. He told me that he collected car from wrecks all over the county but had never seen anyone live from a wreck that bad, let alone walk away.

I sat in that car in that yard strewn with other wrecks. I went through everything that had happened in my head. I put together every last detail and the sequence of events. I should have noticed my younger son had taken his seat-belt off and was lying on the back seat. I should have told him to put it on. But would that have saved him from injury or made it worse? Could I have swerved? Could I have braked? Should I have reacted differently? How had the impact affected each one of us? How had I not been impaled by that steering wheel? What had happened to each of my sons?  Only when I had pieced together exactly what had happened and reassured myself that there had been nothing I could have done to prevent it did I get out of the car and go home.

I was lucky. The impact had been off centre and I had been thrown around the steering wheel. If it had been plumb on I would have been crushed by that steering wheel. Instead I had been thrown around it and lived to tell the tale. We were all lucky. If the impact had been completely square we would probably all have died. The slight angle saved us. It threw the force off to the side.

Both my sons lived and made full recoveries. Both spent weeks in hospital on traction. My oldest was in for three months with both legs pinned and suspended on weights. The long term effects will no doubt come out later.

I have never trusted other drivers since. I flinch a lot.

Many years later I used to give a talk to the 6th Form who were just starting to learn to drive. I told them about my accident as a warning for them to drive safely. Except that telling it made it so real to me that I was so emotionally affected I could not speak, my throat seized up, and found, to my shock, that my eyes were welling up with tears. I had to walk out.

Anecdote – Another favourite teacher – explosions and fireworks.

Anecdote – Another favourite teacher – explosions and fireworks.

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Another favourite teacher

Mr Bell was a different type of teacher. He was quiet and unassuming and not at all alternative but he loved explosions.

I loved explosions.

As a kid we did all sorts of dangerous stunts with gunpowder. Once we’d exhausted all the possibilities of blowing things up with penny bangers (tying them to rockets, blowing up apples, dams and dropping them into milk bottles) we had ‘banger wars’ throwing them at each other. Then we discovered that if you undid the stitching on a jumping jack and straightened it out you created a really explosive banger. It went off with one huge bang.

The fun of bangers became limited. It had its moments, like when one of our rockets, equipped with banger bomb, failed to get off the ground and snaked off over the grass and on to the road where the banger exploded under a passing cyclist causing him to fall off. He chased us a long way.

After that we took the bangers apart and extracted the gunpowder. We loaded up lengths of tubing that we nailed on to lumps of wood to create rudimentary cannons from which we fired ball bearings. That was fun. We never got killed once!

So it was quite a revelation to find a teacher who liked blowing things up. He got away with it because he was a chemistry teacher. He’d start each lesson with his ‘Tin Can Terrors’. Back then the gas was coal gas. Mr Bell would have five or six different size tins with lids. He’d made holes in the lid and bottom. He filled the tins with gas and lit them. As we came into the classroom all the tins would have flames coming out the top hole. When the contents of the tin reached the correct ratio of oxygen and gas it exploded blowing the lid off. We entered the classroom to a series of explosions.

I can’t think of a better way to start a lesson.

Mr Bell always wanted to do this with one of the big galvanised dustbins. He set that up on the school field and blew that up very successfully.

In the Sixth Form Mr Bell was not content to stick with gas. He taught us to make explosive such as gun cotton and the contact explosive triiodotoluene.

Triiodotoluene was great fun. It was a black paste that was perfectly safe until it dried out. We made loads of it. To start with we smeared it on the bottoms of stools in the laboratory and on the rollers on the blackboard. It took a day or two to dry out then, whenever someone sat down or shuffled a stool, or when a teacher pulled the roller-board down, there would be a series of crackles and small bangs.

Off course that is where it got a bit out of hand.

We were not satisfied with small crackles and bangs. We started mass producing. It was simple. The laboratory was well equipped with all the ingredients. There were rows of bottles of reagents, concentrated acids and we had easy access.

We started leaving dollops of black paste all over the place. It came to a head (and we came to a Head) when the laboratory technician trod on a big lump which promptly did what it did best and exploded. He dropped the glass trough of assorted glassware on the floor and broke a lot of equipment.

Somehow Mr Bell managed to persuade the Headteacher that it was an accident and we were not intentionally blowing people up.

That brought our explosives club to an abrupt halt.

Just think – if we’d been doing any of this now we’d probably be interrogated as potential terrorists!

Anecdote – Hans’ sugar sandwiches and reflexes.

Anecdote – Hans’ sugar sandwiches and reflexes.

AppleMark
AppleMark

When I was at college I shared digs in London with my friend Pete, an English Literature student called Tony and a  Dutch student called Hans.

We once received a letter addressed to Opher, Hands, Toe, Knee and Feet.

Hans was in the room next to us with a snore like a buzz-saw. We could see the thin partition wall vibrate.

Hans only ate sandwiches. There were two that he had mastered. Hans would cut cheese into thick wedges and place the wedges on bread. He would then either put an inch of tomato sauce on top or an inch of sugar, apply the top slice of bread and eat it with great satisfaction squirting tomato or spilling sugar everywhere. Cheese and sugar? I was never tempted to try it.

Hans had extremely slow reflexes. He would shake the ketchup bottle vigorously before applying it to the sandwich. On one occasion the top came off and Hans applied a line of tomato sauce up the wall, over the ceiling, down the opposite wall and back again.

That double streak of ketchup remained right through our tenure.

I often wonder what happened to Hans.

Anecdote – The Day the Dam Went Down

Anecdote – The Day the Dam Went Down

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The Day the Dam Went Down

I like building dams. I can’t resist. Whenever there is a gush of water I am there blocking it up. On sea-shore and stream I have constructed edifices that are still the stuff of gossip.

When we were eight there was a little gang of us who loved damming up the stream at the side of the allotments near the main road. It was sunk down four feet so that we were totally out of sight in a world of our own. It took a bit of planning and coordination. We’d build it out of mud and see how high we could make it. It never lasted long because the stream was quite fast flowing. It would rapidly spill over the top and the trickle rapidly develop into a rivulet that would melt the mud and, despite all our best efforts, cascade into a great gush and take all before it. The dam would burst and that would be the end of it.

We’d emerge from the stream caked in drying brown slime and happy as larks.

Another thing I greatly like is escalation. I’m not satisfied until I’ve done it to the max.

So when we discovered a huge pile of turfs on the allotment a plan rapidly took shape. We all saw the potential. Slabs of turf were much more durable than mud and much easier to deploy. We had the once in a lifetime opportunity to produce a dam worthy of the Guinness book of world records.

We formed a chain to move the turf down into the stream. We organized the turfs in preparation. We meant business. This was a well-oiled machine of cooperation, experience and skill. We intuitively knew what needed doing.

When the preparations were complete we dammed the stream. It was highly successful. The water started backing up upstream while downstream it receded to a muddy trickle probably causing immense panic in the sticklebacks and other denizens of the stream. Not that we cared. We’d already constructed the best dam ever. The pool building up behind it was higher than we’d ever managed with all our best efforts.

But we weren’t through yet. This enterprise had a lot more legs.

Feverishly we lugged more and more turfs, building up thickness to resist the mounting pressure and height to hold back the flow. The pool was getting bigger and bigger and rising ever higher.

This was the stuff of dreams. We’d never imagined anything as mega as this. The scale was beyond our wildest dreams. Like madmen we transferred the turfs from the diminishing heap to the majestic dam, reinforcing and buttressing. It was now reaching epic proportions. The water was nearly up to the top of the ditch. That was stupendous.

We were still beavering away, piling on turfs, caught up in a frenzy. The dam was holding. There was a huge body of water being held back.

‘HOOY!!’ This big voice boomed out. ‘What do you think you’re up to!’

Startled, we all looked up. Standing on the bank of the stream was a copper peering down at us with darkened face.

We were frozen.

Then, as one, we scrambled up the bank the other side of the stream. We all stopped to have one last look at that masterpiece of a dam and the huge body of water it was holding back. Further down the road we could see a dip in the road where our stream had flooded the entire street and produced such a depth that it was interfering with traffic. That is what had attracted the attention of the copper.

‘Come back here!!’ The copper bellowed.

I was filled with an immense surge of pride. Then we all belted off through the allotments and scarpered before retribution could fall.

Anecdote – My Grandfather – A Psychic Medium.

Anecdote – My Grandfather – A Psychic Medium.

AppleMark

My Grandfather – A Psychic Medium.

My grandfather was a meter reader for the water board. He became a Psychic Medium.

My mother was a confirmed Spiritualist. She believed in her father and thought you could converse with the dead.

I thought the whole thing was nuts.

My grandfather would go into a trance and talk in a funny voice. He had an American Native Indian Chief – called White Eagle, a china man called Chan and a cheeky cockney and put on voices accordingly. I last saw him when I was fourteen. I found it embarrassing.

My grandfather used to hold séances and healing sessions. He was also a homeopath. He was very successful at it and was able to give up his ‘day job’.

Among his ‘achievements’ was a healing session on a Mr Cuthbert Coulson Pounder, who was famous for designing diesel engines on ships like the liner the Queen Mary. He had terminal, inoperable cancer of the kidneys. He went to my grandfather in desperation. My grandfather held a healing session in which he removed a tumour from Cuthbert’s kidney. Later medical examination confirmed there was no longer a tumour there and Coulson survived for many years. He went on to write a book about my grandfather and grandmother, who my mother swore was the real power in the partnership, entitled ‘Healers from another world’.

I cannot explain this but I still am very skeptical of his activities.

My mother used to regularly go along to the spiritualist church to get ‘readings’ and messages from the dead.

She believed him.

I don’t.

Anecdote – The Petrified Forest and the Petrified Trucker

Anecdote – The Petrified Forest and the Petrified Trucker

AppleMark

The Petrified Forest and the Petrified Trucker

Somehow we ended up touring around America in our VW van, with one big tent, three kids and the mother-in-law. It wasn’t meant to be like that. The mother-in-law had come out to visit. Liz’s father had died and she was grieving. It seemed that a trip out to us might help.

She had her return flight booked from San Francisco. The idea was that we would drive up to Frisco first before heading off on other adventures. When it came to it she could not face going back so she came round with us.

One of our stops was the petrified forest. The fossilized trees were incredible red crystalline structures and we loved the striated colours of the badlands.

That night we pulled into a truck-stop and put up our tent. It was really a stop for long-haul truckers who needed to pull in to get some sleep and we weren’t meant to be there at all.

At midnight a huge refrigerated truck drove in and parked near us. Because it needed to keep the goods frozen it had to have the engine running. That wouldn’t have been so bad except that every minute it would rev up. It woke us up. The canvas of the tent was no barrier to noise.

‘What is he playing at?’ Liz’s mum moaned in a disgruntled manner.

Finally she could stand it no more. She got out of her sleeping bag, put her dressing gown on and went off, armed with her walking stick, to confront the trucker.

She rapped on his window with her stick and told him to switch off the motor. It was the middle of the night and he was waking everyone up.

I had a mental picture of a huge tattooed trucker peering out at a little old English lady threatening him with her walking stick. I wasn’t quite sure where this was going.

He switched the engine off and mother-in-law came back to bed. The next morning the truck was gone. I could imagine a whole consignment of frozen goods having to be dumped.

How was he going to explain that one away?